Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Darwin Smiling Broadly

While reading Diana Donald and Jane Munro, eds., Endless Forms: Charles Darwin, Natural Selection and  the Visual Arts (New Haven CT: Yale University Press, 2009), we were surprised to run across a caricature of Charles Darwin in which he is (to our surprise) smiling broadly. According to the caption (p. viii), it is a colored lithograph that initially appeared in Vanity Fair on September 30, 1871. You can also see it online here. In Endless Forms, it is described as showing "aspects of Darwin's characteristic appearance described by his son Francis, but seldom portrayed. He habitually raised his seat with cushions or footstools, and sat with 'his legs crossed, and from being so thin they could be crossed very far…When he was excited with pleasant talk,' his face and 'whole manner' were 'wonderfully bright and animated.'"